Labor Advocate Online

Week In Review

A Weekly Column by Bill Onasch
March 12, 2006

Our Best to Dave
Many readers of this column know, or know of Dave Campbell. Dave not only plays an exemplary role as a leader of an important Los Angles area refinery workers local–USW Local 675–he’s been a key player in the Labor Party and US Labor Against the War as well. Just this past week we posted a letter he sent to an Iraqi oil worker union leader updating a solidarity campaign providing substantial material support to victims of the occupation. Last night I received this message from an old friend, Kathleen O’Nan:

"Dave had a serious heart attack last Sunday. He was released from the hospital Wednesday but readmitted Friday with additional (and unexpected) problems. The good news is that he's going to be okay but it's going to be a harder road than originally thought....If you, or anyone you might mention this to, wants to send him a card, send it to the house at: 2125 Duane St., Los Angeles, CA 90039-3918."

The Visible Immigrant
As congress debates various pieces of legislation to intimidate and punish workers born elsewhere there were two truly massive demonstrations in defense of immigrant rights. The first, on Tuesday, in Washington, DC, packed an area from the Capitol steps to the reflecting pool–clearly 100,000 or more. In Chicago on Friday over 100,000 marched–drawing along workers walking off jobs on the way.

At the Chicago event Governor Blagojevich got swept away proclaiming, "ustedes no son criminales. Ustedes son trabajadores" ("You are not criminals. You are workers!") While not trusting this Democrat politician any farther than I could throw him, I have to say he was spot on with that remark.

Organized labor has come a long way in overcoming anti-immigrant prejudice and today is one of the most effective defenders of immigrant rights. But, in keeping with their general philosophy of "practical politics," trying to influence the bosses’ politicians, many union leaders are supporting a merely bad piece of "immigration reform"–Kennedy-McCain--in hopes of stopping even more terrible ones that have been making progress in the House. That’s a losing strategy, in my opinion.

We cannot afford to concede a single inch to the bigotry and phony security alarms behind all of these bills. The only kind of immigration "reform" worthy of our support is elimination of sweat shop labor here and abroad. When workers have decent living standards, working conditions, and fair treatment everywhere there will no longer be a compelling need to leave one’s native land, and often family as well, behind.

Until that day, our task is to build solidarity among all workers in the U.S.–and across all borders as well. "No human being is illegal" should continue to be a motto of our movement. Those of us workers born in the U.S. have far more in common with fellow workers who have come from Latin America, the Caribbean, China, eastern Europe, Ireland, and elsewhere looking for a way to provide for their families, than we will ever have with the American bosses who exploit us all.

In the age of Globalization it is more important than ever to say: La solidaridad no sabe las fronteras! La solidarité ne sait pas de frontiPre! Solidarität kennt keine Ränder! Solidarity knows no borders!

For God and Betty Crocker
After gutting Medicaid and worker comp last year the legislators of the Missouri General Assembly are ready this session to please God and save our souls from, as one of them put it, "people with left-wing ideas pushing us away from what made America strong." Among their proposals:

* changing the mission of the Missouri Women’s Council–reduced by budget cuts to one staff person–from an advocate for working women to: "assist and support women when making the transition from work to home or while working at home." One wag labeled this the Betty Crocker Bill.

* recognizing the Christian God as deity of choice for Missouri.

* a bill to allow Bible classes in public schools. "The Bible is the most quoted text in the history of mankind," Senator Jason Crowell of Cape Girardeau said. "I don’t think it is a problem to incorporate it into the statutes of Missouri."

* a bill that would eliminate the requirement that sex education classes include information about various forms of contraception, including failure rates and each form’s ability to prevent disease. The bill was further amended by a House committee to mandate that the classes teach that life begins at fertilization and that an unborn child has "sensory awareness" long before birth.

* Rep. Mike Cunningham, a Marshfield Republican, is sponsoring legislation that would require all state agencies, universities and colleges, public schools, and even cities and counties to "use the traditional name" of all recognized holidays when referring to them. No more left-wing "happy holidays" in the Show Me state.

* deny alimony to ex-spouses living with boyfriends or girlfriends.

* propose a federal constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to pray in schools and on other public property.

* yet another proposed amendment to allow the Ten Commandments to be displayed on public property.

* and, playing catch-up to quicker moving South Dakota by banning all abortions.

Jon Stewart: are you paying attention?

Angels of Mercy Also fight for Justice
The California Nurses Association and its growing national arm, the National Nurses Organizing Committee, organized more than 320 RN volunteers to help out with the health care crisis in the aftermath of Katrina. They’re having a reunion this week in San Francisco. But they’re doing more than just celebrating and taking bows for their worthy effort. They plan to use the occasion to push for single-payer health legislation pending both in congress--HR 676–and in California--SB 840.

A Dreaded Anniversary
Next weekend will mark the third anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. There will be protests in nearly every city and town across the country.

One event in Kansas City is a Labor/Community Speak Out organized by Kansas City Labor Against the War. A speakers panel includes Sherwin Carroll, Kansas City manager of SEIU Local 1; labor and civil liberties attorney Doug Bonney; and yours truly. The meeting will also feature the Kansas City premier showing of Meeting Face to Face, a video documentary of a U.S. tour of Iraqi trade unionists organized by US Labor Against the War last year. You can find all the details by clicking here.

As usual, much of the material for this column came from stories posted on the Daily Labor News Digest.

That’s all for this week.

Sign Up For the KC Labor List

Past Weeks In Review

We get no–and want no–subsidies, grants, or paid advertising. But we need and appreciate whatever help our supporters can contribute, whether a one-time donation of any amount, or a ten dollar a month sustaining subscription.